12 things to do with the family in North Wales

PUBLISHED: 14:30 28 April 2015 | UPDATED: 21:22 21 October 2015

Pony trekking in Snowdonia

Pony trekking in Snowdonia

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Whether you're planning a long holiday in North Wales or just a day out, you're sure to find ideas here

SUBTERRANEAN PLAYGROUND

Bounce Below

What is it?

A series of trampoline-like nets hung within two vast chambers in a disused slate cavern at the Zip World Titan site near Blaenau Ffestiniog. The space is twice the size of St Paul’s Cathedral and the highest of the nets is 180 ft above the bottom of the cavern.

Who’s it for?

Minimum age for Bounce Below is seven, but children under 18 will need to be accompanied by one participating adult for every seven children. Junior Bounce sessions are open to children aged from three to six, accompanied by one participating adult for every three children.

There is also a maximum weight limit of 120kg (that’s a little short of 19 stones).

Bounce Below, Llechwedd Slate Caverns, Blaenau Ffestiniog LL41 3NB, 01248 601444, www.bouncebelow.net

ANIMAL MAGIC

Pili Palas

What is it?

A good option on a rainy day in Anglesey: a steamy environment with lush vegetation, waterfalls and live butterflies flitting about. The bug zone boasts hissing cockroaches, milipedes, locusts, giant snails, snakes and lizards. But if you are not keen on anything creepy, crawly or airborne, there are rabbits, guinea pigs, pygmy goats, kune kune pigs and meerkats.

Who’s it for?

All ages. There is an indoor play area for toddlers, and an adventure playground for older children. There are animal-handling sessions, for which children under 12 need to be accompanied by an adult. Dedicated animal-lovers aged 14 and over can also buy a ‘zookeeper for a day’ experience, working in the butterfly and bird houses, feeding animals in pets’ corner and perhaps even giving an iguana a bath.

Pili Palas Nature World, Penmynydd Road, Menai Bridge, Anglesey LL59 5RP, 01248 712474, www.pilipalas.co.uk.

GETTING THE BUZZ

Beekeeping

What is it?

A chance to ‘meet the bees’ at the National Beekeeping Centre for Wales at Bodnant Welsh Food, Conwy. Get togged up in protective suit and gloves, and beekeepers will introduce you to the honeybees and show you exactly what goes on in the hive. Afterwards, there is a chance to taste Welsh artisan honeys and attend beeswax candle-making demonstrations.

If that inspires you to become a beekeeper, there are beginners’ beekeeping weekend courses on April 25-26 and June 6-7, and beekeepers’ taster days on May 16 and August 8 at the Henfaes Research Centre, Abergwyngregyn.

Who’s it for?

Anyone aged eight or over.

National Beekeeping Centre for Wales, Bodnant Welsh Food, Furnace Farm, Tal-y-Cafn, Conwy LL28 5RP, www.beeswales.co.uk

WORLD’S YOUR OYSTER

Anglesey Sea Zoo

What is it?

Home to a marine menagerie, many of them scudding past your face in panoramic tank windows. There is a shark pool, a kelp forest full of large fish and other hands-on experiences available with some of our less toothy finned friends.

Sea Zoo began, over 30 years ago, when a lobster shop wholesaler realised that the lobster tanks were drawing visitors, and Sea Zoo still runs the Lobster Hatchery of Wales, releasing juvenile lobsters to help replenish dwindling stocks in the wild. Seeing the lobsters at different stages of development is fascinating. Sea Zoo also has a breeding programme for seahorses.

Who’s it for?

All ages. Even babes in arms love the big aquariums.

Anglesey Sea Zoo, Brynsiencyn, Anglesey LL61 6TQ, 01248 430411, www.angleseyseazoo.co.uk

VIEW FROM THE TOP

Tackling the Great Orme

What is it?

A large chunk of limestone which affords you one of the best views in Wales - an expanse of sea and the fetching natural crescent of Llandudno seafront. On a clear day, it is possible to see as far as the Isle of Man, Blackpool and the Lake District. There are several ways to get there: by car, via the toll road Marine Drive, on foot, by tram or by cable car. Those last two are the most fun.The tramway, which runs from late March to late October, hauls out of Llandudno up steep, narrow roads beside doll’s house-like cottages, changing trams at the Halfway Station for the gentler ascent to the 679ft summit.

The cable car, which operates from April to October, weather permitting, is the longest in Britain.

Who’s it for?

All ages, as long as you have a bit of a head for heights.

Llandudno Cable Car, North Parade, Llandudno LL30 2LP, 01492 877205. Great Orme Tramway, Victoria Station, Church Walks, Llandudno LL30 2NB, 01492 577877, www.greatormetramway.co.uk.

MAKING A SPLASH

Coasteering

What is it?

Exploring the sea cliffs around Anglesey by scrambling, swimming and jumping in to the sea. You will be going to places most people don’t get to see, exploring caves and other natural features of the coastline. It sounds hazardous, but the idea is to go with an experienced guide who knows the coast and the tides - one instructor to every eight people coasteering. You could be jumping into the water from as high as 35ft, but these jumps, say coasteering firm North Wales Active, are not compulsory. Start off low and find a level which suits you. You will be provided with a helmet, buoyancy aid and wetsuit.

Who’s it for?

Anyone from the age of 12. It’s something you can do as a family.

North Wales Active, 07890 108149, www.northwalesactive.co.uk

SHOOTING THE RAPIDS

White water rafting

What is it?

A tussle with the mighty river, in this case the Tryweryn in Snowdonia - grade three to four on the scale of white water, which runs from one (gentle flowing water) to six (un-runnable). Although it is a wild mountain river, water levels are controlled by dam, so the rapids still thrill in summer. You will be crashing down the river in a 14ft inflatable raft in groups of up to seven.

Who’s it for?

The minimum age for a full rafting session is 12, and you will need to be able to swim at least 25m. But there is also a raft safari, for which children aged ten are eligible, which explores the lower Tryweryn river. Children must be accompanied by an adult

National White Water Centre, Canolfan Tryweryn, Frongoch, Bala LL23 7NU, 01678 521083 , www.ukrafting.co.uk

FLYING WITHOUT WINGS

Zip World Velocity

What is it?

The longest zip line in the northern hemisphere, and the fastest in the world, ‘billed as the nearest thing to flying’. With Zip World Titan at Blaenau Ffestiniog, North Wales is becoming the zip wire capital of the world.

Zip World Velocity, at Bethesda, has a pair of zip lines: the Little Zipper, which allows speeds of up to 45mph, and the Big Zipper - a mile long zip line, where riders can exceed 100mph, 500ft high, across what was once the largest slate quarry in the world.

Who’s it for?

The minimum age for Velocity is ten. There’s no maximum age..the oldest rider to date was 94! You must be between 30kg (4st 10lbs) and 120kg (18st 12lbs) and between 4ft and 7ft tall. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Zip World, Bethesda, Bangor LL57 4YG, 01248 601 444, www.zipworld.co.uk

BEACH SAFARI

Exploring rock pools

What is it?

The oldest form of family fun there is....and it’s free. Some of our best childhood memories are of scouring the rock pools at low tide for wildlife. Anglesey in particular is blessed with many rocky beaches where crab-hunters and shrimp-prodders may get lucky. The North Wales Wildlife Trust recommends Porth y Pwll, east of Trearddur Bay, where seaweed-filled pools are rich in marine life including lobsters, squat lobsters, sea hares and starfish. Also Cemlyn Bay, on the north west coast of Anglesey, where there is not just the wildlife in the rock pools to enjoy, but also lots of birdlife and the possibility of seeing seals, porpoises or dolphins. Cable Bay, Porth Nobla and Lion Rock, all near Rhosneigr, Anglesey, are other good spots for rock-pooling.

Who’s it for?

Everyone

MOUNT UP THE MOUNTAINS

Pony trekking

What is it?

One thing North Wales has in abundance is open country across which to ride a horse, whether it be a canter through the waves on the Llyn Peninsula, or a trek up a windswept mountain.

Snowdonia Riding Stables has been leading riders off into the spectacular scenery of Snowdon’s foothills for over 30 years. The biggest adventure they offer is a five-hour ride into the high mountains.

Who’s it for?

The full-day ride is not for young children, but there is something for virtually all ages and levels of experience: an introductory ride for small children or first-time riders, a one-hour easy ride for novices, and longer excursions which, depending on your experience, may offer the chance for a canter. There is a maximum weight limit of 16stones ‘for horse welfare reasons’.

Snowdonia Riding Stables, Waunfawr, Caernarfon LL55 4PQ, 01286 650342, www.snowdoniaridingstables.co.uk

YOU’LL BE AMAZED

Conwy Valley Maze

What is it?

The world’s largest garden maze, having taken that title from Longleat Safari Park, Wiltshire. Extending to over two acres, it was designed and created over a period of ten years by Giovanni Jacovelli with help from Australian artist Bob Haberfield.

The maze is constructed from English yew and, within it are several themed gardens: a rose garden, butterfly garden and Japanese zen garden. There is also a laburnum arch to rival that at Bodnant Garden. It’s in a picturesque setting in the Conwy valley, off the B5106 between Trefriw and Dolgarrog and surrounded by the stunning Carneddau mountain range.

Who’s it for?

Anyone of any age who is fascinated by the idea of getting lost in a garden. You can take a picnic. But you can’t take a dog - they’re not allowed in the maze. You are advised to phone before travelling there, as the maze can occasionally be shut for weather reasons.

Conwy Valley Maze, Dolgarrog, Conwy LL32 8JX, 01492 660900, www.big-maze.co.uk

CATCH A WAVE

Surf Snowdonia

What is it?

Opening in July, it is the world’s first publicly-accessible Wavegarden surf lagoon and it’s in the lee of Snowdonia. Waves of up to two metres high are generated at a rate of one per minute, to be ridden in a 300m long lagoon. Pro surfers are very excited at the prospect, but this is not just for the professionals, it’s for absolute beginners too, and the idea is to make it a family destination. There will also be a restaurant and viewing hub and an Total Wipeout-style obstacle lagoon.

Who’s it for?

The surf lagoon will be for ages seven and over, the activity lagoon for ten and over, and there will be an indoor soft play area for children up to 12.

Surf Snowdonia, Dolgarrog, Conwy, www.surfsnowdonia.co.uk

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